On October 5, 2011 India launched the world’s cheapest tablet, Aakash (Hindi word for ”sky”). The tablet is priced at just $35 for students and $60 in stores.

The Indian Government has subsidized the cost hoping to reduce the digital divide between rich and poor. The government also distributed the first 100,000 units to college students for free.

The tablet was developed in a collaboration between researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology and DataWind, a small British company.  The tablet is being produced in India and is available in stores. According to Kapil Sibal, India’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology,”The rich have access to the digital world, the poor and ordinary have been excluded. Aakash will end that digital divide,” Reuters reports.

While it is no match for the I-Pad, Aakash does pack a punch for the buck. It runs Android 2.2Froyo, has a 7-inch touchscreen, weighs 350 grams, and has 32 GB of internal memory, 256 MB of RAM and two USB ports. The 2100mAh battery should last for two to three hours. The tablet addresses the oppressive heat of Indian summers and was tested playing two hours of video at 118 degrees Fahrenheit. Although it comes pre-loaded with some apps, it does not access the Android Marketplace.

Reviewers have complained of the tablet being slow which might be a small price to pay to bring access to millions who otherwise could not afford a tablet computer or any computer at all.

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